Report: In the past 70 years, 166 children abused by 43 Catholic priests in Colorado

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DENVER — In a new report released Wednesday by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, detailing child sex abuse of 166 children by Catholic priests in the state.

The abuse dates back into the ’50s and is spelled out in a 263-page document. It goes into grim detail of the boys and girls being abused by priests in Colorado. However, only one allegation is still viable for prosecution because of the statute of limitations.

On average, it took 19.5 years to remove a priest accused of abuse, according to the report.

The findings do not reveal any new abuse by priests, with the most recent in Colorado taking place in 1998. The report also does not find any active abusers in ministry. The report highlights 2019 is seeing a higher rate of reporting past abuse than in recent years.

Two priests who were once in the Colorado Springs area are in the report along with 19 priests that were once in Pueblo.

At least three children were victimized by priests in the Diocese of Colorado Springs and at least 36 children victimized in the Diocese of Pueblo. The majority of the victims listed in the document were boys between the ages of 10 to 14 years old with some of the priests having several victims each.

“The culture where people wanted to protect priests enabled this to go on, enabled priests to engage in multiple acts of abuse,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said. “And, when you see that the same priest could commit so many acts of abuse, you’re just left pained and breathless that people didn’t act differently.”

The Diocese of Colorado Springs released a statement to FOX21 News on past cases of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado.

“I am thankful to Attorney General Phil Weiser and to Robert Troyer and his investigative team for their thorough, honest, and forthright investigation of all of Colorado’s Catholic priest files. As difficult as this report is to read, it is an important step for the healing of abuse survivors. It is also an important reminder that we must never become complacent in defending our children and must always seek to protect the most innocent among us. Jesus admonishes us that it is better for a millstone to be placed around one’s neck and be cast into the sea, than to lead a young one astray (Luke 17:2).

One victim of the horrific crime of child sexual abuse is too many; the Diocese of Colorado Springs must own the consequences of having three. One predator priest is too many; the Diocese of Colorado Springs must recognize and repent of two. Mr. Troyer’s investigation found that the latest of these incidents occurred around 1986. With Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Berg, I commit on behalf of this Diocese to fully embrace and implement each and every recommendation made by the Special Master. Again, I commend his thoroughness and his dedication to transparency and truth. I and my staff were honored to work with Mr. Troyer in an effort to identify and exhume our past misdeeds, and we commit to making meaningful improvement to better protect every child. I have every confidence that, working in conjunction with our Office of Child and Youth Protection, these recommendations will become a reality.”

Bishop Michael John Sheridan

Those who have previously reported allegations of abuse to the Dioceses will be sent a claim packet. For those who haven’t notified them yet can still file a claim, regardless of when the abuse may have happened.

Claims must be filed by January 31.

According to our news partners at KDVR FOX31 Denver, Archbishop Samuel Aquila refused to take questions Wednesday from reporters.

He did, however, promise to implement the recommendations made in the report — including having an outside independent team investigate abuse going forward.

The report accuses the current Crisis Response Team of being biased toward the church, blasting the team for making alleged victims come to the Archdiocese of Denver’s main office and sit in a room with religious symbols and crucifixes that might be trigger images for victims.

In a recorded video message, Aquila said “The report is difficult to read. I am truly sorry for the hurt that this abuse has caused.”

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